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NY Times article worth a read


Carlspeak

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http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/10/business...0audio.html?hpw

In some respects, modern trends in iPods and compressed music reflect the change in music tastes and genres. Much of what I here today is electronic based rather than acoustic and basically not of very good musical quality. Perhaps though, if there were iPods back in the 60's, listeners would behave the same as they do today. :)

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Perhaps though, if there were iPods back in the 60's, listeners would behave the same as they do today.

I think we saw something like this happen with cassettes in the 70's. The sound quality was inferior to LPs, but the convenience won over a lot of buyers and by the time cassettes peaked there were music stores in my local malls that only carried cassettes and no LPs. The big difference is that cassette sound continually improved over the years and so far digital has been getting worse as time passes, but perhaps as internet speeds increase and storage gets cheaper that will eventually change as well. The fly in the ointment is the "loudness war" and the dangerously high volumes many young people use. An entire generation of consumers may lose its ability to recognize better quality sound due to hearing loss. I've spent the last 40 years or so carefully protecting my hearing from the industrial environments I've worked in, and I think I actually have better hearing than some of my neighbors' kids who are a third of my age. Really scary.

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I think we saw something like this happen with cassettes in the 70's. The sound quality was inferior to LPs, but the convenience won over a lot of buyers and by the time cassettes peaked there were music stores in my local malls that only carried cassettes and no LPs. The big difference is that cassette sound continually improved over the years and so far digital has been getting worse as time passes, but perhaps as internet speeds increase and storage gets cheaper that will eventually change as well. The fly in the ointment is the "loudness war" and the dangerously high volumes many young people use. An entire generation of consumers may lose its ability to recognize better quality sound due to hearing loss. I've spent the last 40 years or so carefully protecting my hearing from the industrial environments I've worked in, and I think I actually have better hearing than some of my neighbors' kids who are a third of my age. Really scary.

I turned 54 this year and one of my other passions is honey bees. Due to an abnormally warm spring and an intense bloom, the bees have been extremely eager to swarm and I've been kept busy trying to stop them. I thought I heard a swarm yesterday in the woods and I finally found what I was hearing, a single honey bee checking out the dandilions near me. Not to shabby for 54 year old ears.

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I think we saw something like this happen with cassettes in the 70's. The sound quality was inferior to LPs, but the convenience won over a lot of buyers and by the time cassettes peaked there were music stores in my local malls that only carried cassettes and no LPs. The big difference is that cassette sound continually improved over the years and so far digital has been getting worse as time passes, but perhaps as internet speeds increase and storage gets cheaper that will eventually change as well. The fly in the ointment is the "loudness war" and the dangerously high volumes many young people use. An entire generation of consumers may lose its ability to recognize better quality sound due to hearing loss. I've spent the last 40 years or so carefully protecting my hearing from the industrial environments I've worked in, and I think I actually have better hearing than some of my neighbors' kids who are a third of my age. Really scary.

As many of us have pointed out on several occasions, "listening to music on your system" is no longer an activity that generations younger than us participate in.

It just never happens any longer. Music is experienced primarily as "aural wallpaper," in the background, subordinate to some other activity. Viewed in this light, the lack of emphasis on sound quality is understandable. Convenience and accessibility are the primary factors, not sound quality, and that is not changing anytime in the foreseeable future.

I'll enjoy my 9's, Gene will enjoy his 2ax's and 3a's, Zilch will enjoy his Waves, and HF will enjoy his Allisons. But our kids don't know what brand of buds are in their ears or what sampling rate they downloaded the songs at.

In a strange way, it could be said that our kids are enjoying the music totally for its own sake, free of the peripheral consideration of "how well it is being reproduced."

But I submit that we listened to the music itself more closely and analytically, independently of the quality of reproduction. The sound quality and the music itself were at times independent, and were at times intertwined.

We listened for three basic reasons:

1. Sometimes we listened because that album was so well-recorded that it made our 'system' sound good.

2. Sometimes, we listened just for the music without consideration for the system at all.

3. Sometimes we listened just for the music and the revealing nature of the system enhanced the musical experience.

The iPod generation listens mostly for reason no. 2, but they arguably listen less intently and analytically than we did to the music itself.

Steve F.

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